Robert J. McCann’s responsibilities at Swiss bank giant UBS dramatically expanded with a new appointment Thursday. CEO since October 2009 of UBS Wealth Management Americas (WMA), McCann was appointed to the additional role of CEO of the entire Americas Group today as part of a larger management shuffle instituted by UBS's new CEO Sergio Ermotti. When Ermotti took the job—following the enormous trading loss that resulted in ouster of UBS's prior CEO Oswald Grubel—he pledged a greater strategic focus on the wealth management group.
McCann sent a memo to employees today, pledging his continued dedication to the wealth management division. “Central to my mission as CEO will be working with all of you to meet the growing needs of our clients,” McCann told UBS WMA employees in the company-wide memo, released before U.S. markets opened. “We have talented people with the ability and expertise to develop innovative, world-class solutions to exceed these demands. Our opportunity is to deliver that talent and the full global capabilities of UBS every time our clients interact with our firm,” he said. Added McCann: “It’s not going to happen overnight. But with your support and our shared commitment, I am confident that together we can build such a quality organization.”
The profitability of the WMA business in the Americas and advisor retention have been growing under McCann for several quarters. That’s after huge losses caused in part by outflows of assets pulled by customers unnerved by an international tax evasion scandal and the sale of impaired securities. (See, UBS Wealth Management Unit Pulls Into First Place, McCann Tells Troops, Registered Rep., October 25, 2011,)
Will McCann’s new role distract him from his intense focus on the wealth management business? McCann will now oversee an employee workforce at UBS Group Americas that totals 21,999 full-timers in the U.S., 1,189 in the rest of the Americas, primarily Canada, Brazil and Mexico, according to UBS. “That’s a great question,” responded Marty Halbfinger, a veteran FA at UBS WMA, asked about McCann’s ability to continue to lead the Americas wealth management business to profitability. Halbfinger said he had no doubt McCann can do an excellent job. “Everybody is very excited around here,” he said. “It’s going to be a win-win for everybody.” It should lead to a more seamless partnership among the various sides of UBS with McCann overseeing wealth management, investment banking and asset management in the Americas, the FA said.
McCann and Ermotti have known each other a long time. Indeed, for two decades, both men worked together at Merrill Lynch. The relationship included a decade together on the global equities side at Merrill. At the same time, UBS announced this morning that Philip Lofts, CEO, UBS Group Americas, will resume his previous job as UBS’s Group Chief Risk Office (CRO). He replaces Maureen Miskovic who had the role since January. UBS said she is leaving the firm. Ulrich Korner, who joined UBS in 2009, will assume the role of UBS Group Europe, Middle East and Africa. He will also remain as Group Chief Operating Officer and CEO Corporate Center.
Added McCann in the memo, “I appreciate how challenging this year has been - for world economies, the markets and for all of you. I don't expect the current environment will change anytime soon. That said, I believe we have a bright future ahead of us. I've had the pleasure of working with Sergio on the investment banking side of our industry for many years. We've built businesses together in the past, and I look forward to working with him, the entire GEB [global executive board], and all of you as we build an exceptional organization here in the Americas for the future.”